“Looking in a dream world for a break…” Debut album from session percussionist Doug Hammond in his first time in the bandleader chair, originally released on Wendell Harrison and Phil Ranelin’s coveted Detroit jazz label Tribe Records. Keyboardist David Durrah plays Ghost to Hammond's Chef, lending some ace Rhodes & synthesizer work to the session. Musically there’s soulful afro-jazz vibes galore, but on a lyrical tip, Sea Of Nurnen is more upbeat and harmonious than, say, Harrison’s haunting Message From The Tribe. Hammond was just a Lord Of The Rings nerd (file this one next to Zeppelin and Sabbath) who wanted to jam, and where Message From The Tribe was an austere depiction of Earth, Sea Of Nurnen is an escape to Middle Earth via jazz. Straightforward soul jazz grooves (“Fidalgo Detour,” “Sea Of Nurnen”) are interspersed with adventurous Moog sketches courtesy of Durrah (“Space I,” “Space II”). Hammond plays drums and lends his buoyant vocals to a few tracks, landing somewhere between Curtis and Gil, and I’m stuck wondering why this guy didn’t blow up (he sang on Mingus' "Moves" the year before this though). The soulful, message-oriented “Wake Up Brothers” and “For Real” are easily the best tracks of the set, each sporting some divine Arp synthesizer licks. Also check out lush Rhodes reverie “Reflections” and moody closing cut “Moves.” Reflections In The Sea Of Nurnen is a sublime listen, loaded with memorable hooks and riffs that’ll rattle around your brain for months (the sax riff on “Fidalgo Detour” has been stuck in my head since this reissue was announced). Recommended.
- black vinyl pressing
- remixed + remastered from original master tapes
- includes 12" booklet w/ extensive liner notes + rare photos
- music label: Now-Again Records 2022
reviewed by nick nightingale 10/2018